The anatomy of a lamp.

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Project by riverguy posted 10-04-2012 05:41 PM 2095 views 17 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here’s one of my fine-woods and art-glass lamps, along with some pics of what goes into making it. Getting the wiring to the light socket in one of these lamps is always a fun challenge. The electric wire actually snakes up through the black-lacquered post, then out through the cross-brace and across inside the long support and finally up to the lamp socket.

The dramatic wood in the base is Hawaiian curly Koa, the nearly-black wood is African Wenge, and the structural parts of the frames that hold the glass are made of eucalyptus, chose for its strength. It’s actually cut from 60 year old flooring I salvaged from an old house in Hawaii!

The posts are made of African Mahogany, chosen because it is easy to work into these kinds of shapes. All of my lamps are finished with Deft brushing lacquer, sprayed at low pressure. Since I’m basically lazy and don’t like to spend hours with many coats of hand-rubbed finishes, I use this process exclusively: Sand to 220, spray two coats thinned no more than 10%, let dry an hour and then sand lightly again with 220 to remove any nibs and dust. Then one more coat, thinned another 10%. When that dries, it already looks great, but II go over each piece with a soft cloth and fine automotive polishing compound (like a “cleaner wax) and then I’m done. The black lacquer is applied and finished in the same manner, but requires a few more coats to fill the grain of the soft mahogany. I like to avoid the occasional problems one gets when applying different substrates, so I never use fillers. My first coat of lacquer is the filler.

These are fun projects, since I never do the same one twice. That means a lot of time goes into each because of all the setups that need to be done. I sell most of them through galleries. I’ve had friends “advise” me that I could certainly earn more per hour by doing other things in my wood shop, but y’know, I feel very lucky that I get to work doing something I really love doing, even if it’s largely a labor of love. And I’d bet that in this woodworker’s community, that notion is easy to recognize!

-- Skip, Forestville, CA,

13 comments so far

View ptofimpact's profile


378 posts in 2459 days

#1 posted 10-04-2012 06:36 PM

Very beautiful work, both the amazing woodwork, and the Stained glass. Have done some Stained Glass, and appreciate how much work goes into it, Thank you for sharing.

Pete in NC

-- Pete in NC

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2628 days

#2 posted 10-04-2012 06:44 PM

Useful and beautiful. My two favorite qualities.

-- Brian Timmons -

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 2435 days

#3 posted 10-04-2012 06:56 PM


-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View Ken90712's profile


17575 posts in 3331 days

#4 posted 10-04-2012 07:23 PM

A real beauty!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Bagtown's profile


1739 posts in 3873 days

#5 posted 10-04-2012 07:27 PM


-- Mike - In Fort McMurray Alberta

View Philip's profile


1277 posts in 2681 days

#6 posted 10-04-2012 09:26 PM

Amazing. That is a mighty fine lamp.

-- I never finish anyth

View michelletwo's profile


2756 posts in 3158 days

#7 posted 10-04-2012 09:30 PM

Hi Riverguy..welcome to Lj’s…Great project. I’ve been a stained glass artist & woodworker for way too many years, so this caught my eye. Look forward to more postings in the future

View Gshepherd's profile


1727 posts in 2344 days

#8 posted 10-05-2012 01:04 AM

Very nice looking piece…. I love to also use the brushing Laquer and It clearly states not for spraying, so glad someone else out there that doesn’t pay attention to the directions…

-- What we do in life will Echo through Eternity........

View riverguy's profile


110 posts in 2207 days

#9 posted 10-05-2012 01:39 AM

I have no idea why Deft calls that finish a “brushing lacquer.” Seems like they’re cutting into their sales potential for a fine product that would get used a lot more if people knew how well it sprays. I’ve used automotive clear lacquers and other brands of generic lacquers, and none seems to work as well on wood as Deft. Sprayed on a warm day, it dries so fast it doesn’t have a chance to get into wood fibers to wreak havoc, and subsequent coats dry so fast they don’t have time to soften the previous ones to bring up sand scratch. I rarely use finer than 200 grit, and this is for work that ends up in upscale galleries with picky buyers!

I like easy, even if sometimes it flies in the face of traditional methods. Laziness is the mother of invention, after all!

Thank you all for the kind words about that lamp! I’ll post more when I get a chance.

-- Skip, Forestville, CA,

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3255 posts in 3251 days

#10 posted 10-05-2012 01:45 AM

I love this lamp! It is gorgeous! Maybe I can talk my wife into some more stained glass efforts. Gshepherd, I spray Minwax water base poly, Zinnser shellac, and Deft Lacquer all the time. I get a way better finish than brushing. Knowing when to look past the restrictions is fun! I sprayed Deft on projects back in the ‘60s in my wood shop classes. I still have some of those projects around, and the lacquer has yellowed very nicely.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View Robb's profile


660 posts in 4076 days

#11 posted 10-05-2012 10:59 AM

Holy….wow! I’d love to have the patience and time to build something like this…forget about the skill!

Beautiful workmanship!

-- Robb

View liferwood's profile


5 posts in 2238 days

#12 posted 10-09-2012 12:13 AM

Nice lamp! My wife dabbles in stained glass and I’d love to build something remotely similar with some of her work.
Your prior one is great also.
Thanks for posting.

View riverguy's profile


110 posts in 2207 days

#13 posted 10-09-2012 12:57 AM

Nice lamp! My wife dabbles in stained glass and I’d love to build something remotely similar with some of her work.

Hey, what a great opportunity for the two of you to work together on a fun project you’ll enjoy for a long time. And just think, Christmas is just around the corner! And thanx for the compliment! I’ve got some more pics to post soon, too.

-- Skip, Forestville, CA,

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